Topic: To Torture or Not to Torture
Note: You must read Holmes chapters 4–7 and 14 in order to complete this assignment. If you have not done so, stop now and read that material.
The ethical issue: One of the ethical controversies of recent times is the practice of using torture to obtain information from suspected terrorists or those with knowledge of terrorist activities. Some believe that the current threat of terrorism warrants such drastic means, while others believe that torture is never a justifiable manner of handling prisoners of war.
The scenario: Suppose a situation presents itself in which there are strong reasons to believe a major attack on U.S. soil is immanent and that many lives will be put in danger. Security forces have captured a terrorist and they have very good reasons to believe he has vital information that can lead to thwarting this attack. They have tried the usual means of obtaining information from the prisoner and none of them have been successful; his resolve not to talk is quite strong. However, security forces are now considering torturing the prisoner. They believe, with a high degree of probability, that torture will break his resolve and he will supply the needed information.
The question: Should they torture the prisoner?
Your thread (at least 350 words) must consist of 2 parts:
- From your understanding of Holmes’ discussions, explain how each one of the following theories might answer the question of torture described in the scenario: utilitarianism, Kantian duty-based ethics, virtue ethics, and Christian-principle based ethics.
- Select the theory you think is true in the context of the torture issue, and explain why.